A low-budget gem from veteran maverick Llorenc Soler, “Lola, Come Here” is a part-docu, part-drama dealing with the rarely handled issue of relationships between gypsies and non-gypsies in Spain. Pic’s commitment, intelligence and insight easily compensate for its technical deficiencies and the fact that only one cast member, Cristina Brondo, is a professional thesp. Though Soler has made gypsy-themed docus before, and so brings an understanding to his subject, the film does not address many of the issues (poverty, drugs) that threaten the gypsy community. Despite this, pic deserves to do the fest rounds at the very least.
Simple plot is centered on Lola (Brondo), a student who’s uncertain about her parentage and whether she is a gypsy, who meets and falls for a delivery boy, Juan (flamenco dancer Miguel “El Toleo”). Film works on three levels, moving between interviews with gypsies, an interview with Brondo about her experience as a non-gypsy playing the central role, and the drama itself.
The relationship between Lola and Juan alienates both from their families. When Lola’s Uncle Roque (Antonio Reyes) is attacked by drug addicts and hospitalized, pic becomes genuinely moving: The death of an elder, another gypsy lucidly states, is like the death of a walking library in terms of the cultural knowledge lost. In his final moments, Roque hums a tune to Lola that comes to obsess her, and that will open up her past to her.
Early scenes are more anthropological, as pic tackles complex issues such as the stifling of individuality by tradition and the sexism of gypsy culture — both of which are freely admitted by interviewees. Through the conservatism, however, comes the vibrancy of the culture, depicted in the lengthy wedding scene that kicks things off.
Pic was shot on DV in natural light, and some local crix have thus seen it as a Dogma movie. Sometimes, the audience sees the crew as they shoot a scene — Soler’s way of letting us know that what we are being told is not the truth, just one fabricated version of it.
Helmer was unable to find gypsy actors for his film. Carmen Munoz as Juan’s mother is winsomely human, while Brondo, who has been featured in a couple of low-profile pics, is natural and charming, nicely suggesting the struggle between tradition and desire taking place inside Lola.
Visuals are grainy, with lensing mainly hand-held. Film’s original version is in Catalan; print caught was the poorly dubbed Spanish-language version.